Riding for life - Cyclists bring diabetes fight to Wild Horse Park

By Carolyn Cole
Published on June 21, 2008

More than 120 bicyclists will pedal out of Wild Horse Park June 28 to raise money to fight diabetes.

The 2008 Tour de Cure bikers will speed out of the Mustang park at 7:30 a.m., spreading across four courses through Canadian and Grady counties to raise money for the Oklahoma City American Diabetes Association, which supports research and education efforts.

Each cyclist must raise at least $150 to participate, in addition to the $25 registration fee. Cyclists may register the day of the event and pledge to raise the donation by July 28.

The Oklahoma City-area Tour De Cure was named the American Diabetes Assoc-iation’s rookie event of the year last year, raising $71,000.

Organizer Mark Saffell said volunteers moved it to Wild Horse Park with hopes of growing the ride into an annual event.

“We are very excited to have the city of Mustang supporting our project,” he said.

The Tour de Cure will include an 18-mile ride, as well as 30-mile, 48-mile and 62-mile (100-kilometer) events. Saffell said all of the riders will start out of the southeast exit of Wild Horse Park at 7:30 a.m., with the long-distance riders pedaling onto Mustang Road first. Rest stops are scattered every 10 miles along the routes with fresh fruits, sports drinks, rest rooms and water. Volunteers will drive support vehicles along routes, checking on riders, handing out water and helping change flat tires.

“Mustang Police Department will man intersections for us to make sure everybody is safe,” Saffell said.

Many of the bicyclists will hit the road together in teams, ranging from two to 12 people. Saffell said the groups will cheer each other on and look out for each other on the road.

“As much as anything, it’s a social event,” he said.

Many participants ride regularly for exercise, and participating in bike events is a way to share their hobby with others, Saffell said.

Saffell’s wife and event organizer Angie Nichols said she plans to be among a dozen diabetes survivors pedaling the course.

Nichols started riding five years ago when she was diagnosed. She watched her father struggle with diabetes, which damaged his heart, and his leg was also amputated due to complications.

“It eats away at you like a cancer,” she said. “I saw an individual who was so bright and intelligent succumb to a disease.”

Nichols said she decided to do whatever she could to control her diabetes through diet and exercise to keep herself from becoming insulin dependent. She watched her diet, and her sons started biking with her. She said she fell in love with it, and soon they entered charity races.

“It is an achievement. You are so excited when you finish,” she said.

Diabetes touches nearly everyone, Saffell said. More than 250,000 Oklahomans have been diagnosed with diabetes — one of the highest rates nationwide. Nearly 600,000 more Oklahomans have pre-diabetes.

Oklahoma is ranked among the states with the highest rates for obesity, especially among children — a leading factor connected to Type 2 diabetes. Oklahomans also face a greater incidence of heart disease, which is labeled as the leading cause of death for Americans.

All money raised through the Tour De Cure benefits local ADA chapters. For information, visit diabetes.org and select Oklahoma City, or call Andrea Barnett at 840-3881.

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